The Tears of Jesus

NT Wright, again, has stirred my thinking. Writing in his Everyone series about the gospel of John, chapter 11, he nudges us to think a little more deeply about what the tears of Jesus might mean. If you remember the story, a good friend had just died (Lazarus), and now Jesus has just encountered the second of Lazarus’ two grieving sisters. On seeing her tears, and the tears of the friends and family who gave gathered, Jesus is only able to ask one simple question – “Where have they laid him?” – before he too bursts into tears. What do these tears mean?


Do they demonstrate that Jesus, in addition to being the true Son of God, was also fully human? These tears do that, and more. As Wright points out, these tears demonstrate that Jesus was not content to just “visit” us in human form. No, he was “all in,” fully invested in the human condition. When we hurt, he hurt. When a friend cried, he cried. It was not a show.


This commitment on Jesus’ part to dive deep into our lives is remarkable. If you believe in a God who can and did create everything, it is easy to imagine (as many thinkers have encouraged for hundreds of years) that this God would want to keep “out of the fray,” away from the mess that we have made of this life. But that is not the kind of God that these tears reveal. They reveal a God that is so much a part of our lives, our ups and our downs, that tears are this God’s natural reaction.

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